Zwilling J. A. Henckels

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Zwilling J. A. Henckels AG
TypeSubsidiary (AG)
FoundedSolingen, Germany
13 June 1731; 291 years ago (1731-06-13)
FounderPeter Henckels
Solingen, Germany
Area served
ProductsKitchen knives, cutlery, cookware
ParentWerhahn KG
SubsidiariesStaub, Demeyere, Miyabi, Ballarini, Henckels Intl.

Zwilling J. A. Henckels AG is a German knife-maker based in Solingen, Germany. It is one of the largest and oldest manufacturers of kitchen knives for domestic and professional use, having been founded in June 1731 by Peter Henckels. It is also one of the oldest operating companies in the World. The brand's namesake was Johann Abraham Henckels (1771–1850), who renamed the brand after himself under his leadership. J.A. Henckels is one of the leading manufacturers of chef's knives. Since 1970, Zwilling is fully owned by Werhahn KG. The following brands belong to the Zwilling Group: ZWILLING, HENCKELS, Miyabi, BSF, Demeyere, Staub, Fontignac, Ballarini, Flammkraft, and Santos Grills.

Early history & expansion[edit]

J. A. Henckels International logo

"Zwilling" (German for 'twin') was founded on 13 June 1731 by the German knife-maker Peter Henckels.[1][2] The logo was registered with the Cutlers' Guild of Solingen, making Zwilling one of the earliest examples of a trademarked company.[3][4] In 1771, Peter's son Johann Abraham Henckels (1771–1850) – the later namesake of the company – was born.[5][6] The Henckels logo has been in the current shape with a red background since 1969.[7]

J. A. Henckels Twin Brand Razors and Shears promotional postcard, around 1930–1945

J. A. Henckels opened the first trading outlet in 1818 in Berlin,[8] opening a shop in New York City in 1883 and followed a year later by Vienna.[9] The company exhibited its products at the 1851 Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace in Great Britain, being awarded an international knifesmithing medal.[10]

J. A. Henckels was awarded the Grand Prix prize in Paris in 1900[11] and the Grand Prix of St. Louis in 1904.[12][13] It was also awarded with the Prussian State Golden Medal. Henckels was also given a royal warrant of appointment as purveyors of knives to the Imperial and Royal Court of Austria-Hungary (see K.u.k. Hoflieferant (in German)[14][15]).

Since 1970, Zwilling is fully owned by Werhahn KG located in Neuss.[16]

Brands & current state[edit]

The company operates several brands, including Zwilling J. A. Henckels, J. A. Henckels International, Miyabi, Staub, Demeyere, Ballarini, and BSF.[17] Through these activities, the company also operates its own retail shops both in Germany and internationally, among them about 200 sub-stores in China. Since 1970 the company has been owned by the Werhahn Group,[18] with a staff of 3,200 worldwide. Profits amounted to 282 million in 2007, with 80% of its profits generated outside Germany. In 2004, Henckels acquired the Japanese knife manufacturer Nippa, and renamed it Miyabi, and the U.S. beauty specialist Tweezerman, which is operated independently from Zwilling.[19][20]


Since 1988, J. A. Henckels has partnered with Solingen-based professional hairdressing equipment manufacturer Jaguar,[21] which became part of the Zwilling group in 2004 to make product for the hairdressing industry, also owning a selection of hairdressing equipment brands.[22]


With the 2008 acquisitions of the Belgian manufacturer Demeyere (stainless steel cookware) and the French group Staub, which produces enameled cast iron cookware, Zwilling moved to expand the cookware segment of its business.[23]

Knife lines[edit]

Zwilling J. A. Henckels Four Star knife set

In 1976 Henckels introduced The Four Star line, which is a fully forged knife with a molded handle made of polypropylene and a tang extending into the handle.[24][25] The majority of Zwilling knives have blades constructed from high-carbon stainless steel, which is ice-hardened for sharpness and stain resistance, along with a partnership allowing some products constructed using a microcarbide powder steel with clad layers, which are manufactured in Japan. In 2011 Zwilling partnered with Master Bladesmith and Designer Bob Kramer to launch a series of co-branded knives, stating with a Carbon Steel line.[26]

Manufacturing process[edit]

TWIN Cuisine Tournant knife

Henckels knives are manufactured in several ways. A large selection of the knife range are forged from a single piece of high-carbon stainless steel, which is cold-hardened to improve stain resistance. This hardening process consists of cryogenic tempering and involves immersing the finished knife blades in liquid nitrogen.[27] This process is required to get full hardness from most stainless knife steels, as it completes the conversion of austenite to martensite. The process of forging is intended to produce improved cutting-edge retention, weight, balance, and reduced opportunity for metal fatigue. Most of Zwilling's higher end knives are manufactured in Solingen, Germany,[28] while others, including Henckels branded knives are made in Spain and China.[29][30]

Modern expansion[edit]

In 1909 Henckels set up its first subsidiary in the U.S.,[31] followed by Canada, the Netherlands, Denmark, Switzerland, Japan, Italy, France, Spain, China. In 2008, subsidiaries were set up in Great Britain and Brazil.

In popular culture[edit]

A Henckels shop front can be seen in a whole scene in Fritz Lang's M (approximately 51 minutes into the movie). In 2010 Jeffrey Elliot and Michael DeWan wrote The Zwilling J.A. Henckels Complete Guide to Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use, Techniques and Care which is available in English, Dutch, and French [32]


  1. ^ The Saturday Evening Post. Curtis Publishing Company. November 1950.
  2. ^ Special Consular Reports. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1904.
  3. ^ Congressional Serial Set. U.S. Government Printing Office. 1904.
  4. ^ Statistics, United States Department of Commerce and Labor Bureau of (1905). Industrial Education and Industrial Conditions in Germany : Special Consular Reports Vol. Xxxiii. U.S. Government Printing Office. p. 183.
  5. ^ Kelleter, Heinrich (1924). Geschichte der Familie J. A. Henckels in Verbindung mit einer Geschichte der solinger Industrie (in German). J. A. Henckels.
  6. ^ Schwärzel, Renate (1994). Deutsche Wirtschafts Archive: Nachweis historischer Quellen in Unternehmen, Körperschaften des Öffentlichen Rechts (Kammern) und Verbänden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (in German). Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN 978-3-515-06211-4.
  7. ^ DE Magazin Deutschland. Frankfurter Societäts-Medien GmbH. 2013.
  8. ^ Kelleter, Heinrich (1924). Geschichte der Familie J. A. Henckels in Verbindung mit einer Geschichte der solinger Industrie (in German). J. A. Henckels.
  9. ^ Schwärzel, Renate (1994). Deutsche Wirtschafts Archive: Nachweis historischer Quellen in Unternehmen, Körperschaften des Öffentlichen Rechts (Kammern) und Verbänden der Bundesrepublik Deutschland (in German). Franz Steiner Verlag. ISBN 978-3-515-06211-4.
  10. ^ Robuck, Mike (2014-08-05). Gun Trader's Guide to Collectible Knives: A Comprehensive, Fully Illustrated Reference with Current Market Values. Simon and Schuster. ISBN 978-1-62914-320-0.
  11. ^ Home Furnishing Review. Andrew J. Haire. 1909.
  12. ^ Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft, Hamburg-Amerikanische (1908). Guide Through Germany, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, &c: Souvenir of the Hamburg-American Line. J. H. Herz.
  13. ^ Germany Reichskommission, Weltausstellung in St. Louis (1904). International Exposition St. Louis 1904: Official Catalogue. Exhibition of the German Empire. Georg Stilke.
  14. ^ Österreich-Ungarn (1918). Hof- und Staats-Handbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie: für das Jahr ... nach amtlichen Quellen zusammengestellt (in German). Hof- und Staatsdr.
  15. ^ Hof- und Staats-Handbuch der Österreichisch-Ungarischen Monarchie (in German).
  16. ^ J.A. Henckels ZWILLINGSWERK AG (Hrsg.): 1731–1981, 250 Jahre ZWILLING J.A. Henckels (Jubiläumsbroschüre ). Solingen 1981, S. 22.
  17. ^ Fabrikverkauf in Deutschland- 2005/2006: Der grosse JET Einkaufsführer (in German). Zeppelin Verlag. September 2004. ISBN 978-3-933411-34-1.
  18. ^ Economic Bulletin. Singapore Indian Chamber of Commerce. 1972.
  19. ^ "J. A. Henckels Acquires Tweezerman and Japanese Cutlery Manufacturer". HomeWorld Business. 2004-12-28. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  20. ^ "Dal LaMagna: The rise of the Tweezerman | Fortune".
  21. ^ "Company history". Jaguar Solingen. Jaguar. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
  22. ^ BTC. Gale Research. 1993. ISBN 9780810381681.
  23. ^ "Henckels Acquires Staub". HomeWorld Business. 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  24. ^ Kling, Rob (1996-02-28). Computerization and Controversy: Value Conflicts and Social Choices. Elsevier. ISBN 978-0-08-050263-2.
  25. ^ Dwell. Dwell, LLC. February 2008.
  26. ^ "Bladesmith Bob Kramer Partners with ZWILLING J.A. HENCKELS to Create Custom Knives". PR Newswire. Seattle. 21 October 2010. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  27. ^ "This Kitchen Knife Is Both Functional and Frameworthy". 2017-07-26. Retrieved 2020-09-07.
  28. ^ Forbes, Paula (2011-09-29). "Inside the Henckels Knife Factory". Eater. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  29. ^ "Shanghai Zwilling JA Henckels Ltd - Company Profile and News". Bloomberg News.
  30. ^ "Learn more about OUR FACTORIES | ZWILLING.COM". Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  31. ^ "Solingen: Jubiläumsmesser aus echtem Brückenstahl". RP ONLINE (in German). 8 June 2016. Retrieved 2020-05-01.
  32. ^ Elliot, Jeffrey; Dewan, James P. (2010). Zwilling J.A. Henckels Complete Book of Knife Skills: The Essential Guide to Use, Techniques & Care. ISBN 978-0778802563.

External links[edit]